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Firefighters tackle blaze at historic house in Okehampton

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 15, 2012

  • Fifteen crews of firefighters fought the blaze at Sydenham House, at Lewdown, near Okehampton, last night. Picture: Ian Snell

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An investigation is under way this morning after a fire tore through an historic Devon mansion, lighting up the night sky.

Crews were called to Sydenham House, at Lewdown, near Okehampton, after the alarm was raised just after 4pm.

By 6pm, a total of 15 fire crews were tackling the blaze as it rampaged through the four-storey building.

At one point, fears that the whole structure had become unsafe and would collapse prompted incident managers to order crews to withdraw from the immediate area.

A spokesman for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said it was a major incident. "The whole roof is well alight so I imagine it can be seen for some miles around," he said.

"This is a large house over four floors. As well as the roof, much of the first floor is alight. Fortunately, the house was evacuated when the alarm was raised so there are no injuries."

The spokesman said crews were pouring water on to the burning building, using a total of eight jet hoses. He said water had been obtained from a nearby lake.

It was a dangerous scene, he added.

"At one point there was a risk the building would collapse, so we had to withdraw the firefighters."

He said crews at the scene included those from Tavistock, Okehampton, Greenbank, Plympton, Crownhill, Yelverton, Bere Alston, Ashburton, Hatherleigh, Bovey Tracey, Chagford, Holsworthy, and a number from Cornwall.

The spokesman said it was too early to say what had caused the fire and the investigation would begin today.

The fire was ongoing as the Western Morning News went to press last night and crews were expected to still be at the scene this morning.

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